Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

WAC/Health Sciences

Reducing Test Anxiety

Everybody copes with stress differently.  However, no matter who you are, high levels of stress will negatively affect your performance.  Beyond your responsibilities as students, you also have a responsibility to help yourself manage stress.  This is a skill you will need throughout your entire lives, as students now, and definitely as health care professionals in the future!

Here are some general tips on managing stress:


  • Eat regularly and avoid junk food.  Stress causes physical responses in the body.  Fueling your body with fruits and vegetables, rather than candies or chips, helps you to better cope with stress.
  • Avoid extremes.  Many students allow themselves to become sleep-deprived, which they then attempt to counter-balance with energy drinks (coffee, Monster, Red Bull).  While it may seem like these drinks are necessary to make it through a stressful day, they are actually compounding the effects of stress by increasing heart rate, anxiety and blood-sugar levels.
  • Sleep!!!  Each person is different but the average human needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Without a regular sleep schedule, you will not be able to think clearly or concentrate.  Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is just as important as attending classes, completing homework, or studying.
  • Exercise regularly.  The endorphins and energy produced by physical activity increase your ability to concentrate (and get a good night's sleep).  While you may be too busy to consider a regular workout schedule, 20-30 minutes of activity at least three times a week will improve your overall health and help you stay on top of all your responsibilities.


  • Take time for yourself.  Even if it is just one activity a week, make sure you schedule time to enjoy yourself and unwind.  Plan a short hike; watch a movie or favorite television program.  Having something to look forward to each week greatly helps reduce the negative effects of a stressful day-to-day grind.
  • Keep your friends close.  As gregarious human animals, interaction with others helps reduce stress.  Make friends in your classes and within your department.  In addition to being able to "vent" about frustrations with school or clinicals, you can motivate each other, share notes and resources, and study together. 
  • Respect yourself. A low self-esteem increases physical stress levels and can make it very difficult to feel motivated or accomplish goals.  While it is definitely easier said than done, by focusing on your positive qualities, rather than the negative ones, you will find it is much easier to concentrate on tasks, learn from mistakes, and, generally, simply enjoy your school experience.


  • Plan ahead.  Keep a schedule books and write down all of your assignments, tests, due dates, study groups and meetings.  You should also write down the dates you plan on starting and working on certain projects or assignments, and deadline dates for drafts and revisions.
  • Learn to say no!!!  Don't agree to do too much.  Many times our friends and family members do not understand how taxing it is to be a successful student.  Don't allow yourself to take on too many activities, even if they are fun, because they will clutter your life, reduce your study time, and make it that much more difficult to enjoy and learn from your classes and assignments.
  • Take things one at a time.  Rather than looking at all of your responsibilities together, which can be overwhelming, break them down into manageable tasks.  This will also make it easier to schedule much-needed study breaks and some much-needed personal time.  Click here to see a sample Daily Actions List.


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